Every Friday, Off The Record looks to other Milwaukee publications (and beyond) for bits of news we missed throughout the week.
• Are you a fan of Milwaukee County and all the things Milwaukee County offers? You know, things like public parks, recreation sites, and museums? Well buckle up, Larry, because a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum titled “Delay of Game” is here to remind you that Milwaukee County currently faces “a seemingly insurmountable backlog of tens of millions of dollars worth of deferred maintenance, and lacks the resources to make headway in paring it down.” Wheeeeee!
Just when you thought the Domes were the only things up deferred maintenance creek without a paddle, here comes the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Charles Allis Art Museum, the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, the Milwaukee County Historical Center, Trimborn Farm, and pretty much everything else. The report’s key findings include:
Almost every form of parks infrastructure has pressing needs. The list of parks assets that the county should replace within the next 10 years includes 85% of parking lots and service yards, 75% of walkways, 73% of parkways, 54% of rated Oak Leaf Trails and of basketball courts, 48% of tennis courts, and 47% of large buildings other than the Domes.
Infrastructure issues are particularly acute at the county’s lower-profile cultural institutions. Critical leak damage is threatening the buildings and collections of the Charles Allis Art Museum and Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, and buildings owned by the Milwaukee County Historical Society have substantial needs. Decisions to defer capital projects have forced spending on short-term repairs.
The county lacks the capacity to finance the capital needs of its parks, recreational, and cultural assets if it wishes to stay within its self-imposed limits and address its other capital needs. To meet existing capital requests, the county would need to more than double budgeted spending on cultural institutions (from $6.2 million to $13.9 million) and increase spending nearly tenfold on parks (from $2.4 million to $23 million) in 2019 alone. Moreover, fulfilling all requests over the next four years would consume from 68% of the county’s financing capacity in 2019 to 97% in 2022.
So how are we going to pay for any of this? “We’re working to build a coalition throughout our community and across Wisconsin to create a state funding solution and address our biggest funding challenges,” Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele says. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
• Speaking of Abele, the county exec shared his own thoughts on the above situation via Medium. In a post titled “A Tale of One Meeting,” Abele reminds Milwaukeeans that the county is going to have to come up with new revenue streams “in order to sustain operations, much less update and expand their possibilities for the future.” Also, get ready for service cuts:
The County is critically important to the future of both of these facilities. But as you’ll see in a couple weeks when we introduce the 2019 budget, while we are making major headway into creating as strong of a future for the County as possible, we’re realistically looking at more service cuts than we are program expansions.
“Let’s explore every possible shared resource — whether it’s money, manpower, statutory changes or anything else — and see what we can do to support each other,” Abele concludes. “It may seem impossible, but I firmly believe we can solve this. So let’s build each other up. And let’s do it before things start tumbling down.” [Medium]
• MillerCoors may have tumbled down two 19th century Gettelman Brewery buildings at its complex at 4400 W. State St., but plans to move a third building have changed. The company will now keep the Schweichart/Gettelman farmhouse where it is, and renovate it as well. [OnMilwaukee]
• Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore team is salvaging a bunch of stuff from the soon-to-be-demolished BMO Harris Bradley Center—lockers, fixtures, etc.—and hopes to net roughly $50,000 by selling said stuff at three Milwaukee-area shops. [OnMilwaukee]
• Milwaukee Film announced a ton of great stuff for its upcoming 2018 festival, including the full lineup for the Cream City Cinema program. [Milwaukee Film]
• A nonprofit organization called The Bells of Milwaukee is looking to refurbish three bells that survived the Trinity Lutheran Church fire. [Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service]
• Project Pitch It, a Wisconsin-based reality show that takes its cues from Shark Tank, is returning for a third season on Channel 12. Applications for the coming season are due by October 1. [BizTimes]
• A new independent minor league professional baseball team that will play in Franklin next spring has a name: the Dead Milwaukee Milkmen. [BizTimes]
• The forever-awesome Get Down dance party is celebrating its 15th anniversary with four (!) events in October. [OnMilwaukee]
• The Wisconsin Gazette has printed its final issue, and will shutter its website following the November elections. This sucks. The Gazette will be sorely missed. [Wisconsin Gazette]
• Have a great weekend, Milwaukee!